From Cambridge to Kortowo

Moved to tears, deep in thought, in search for memories, but above all, happy because of the reunion and a visit to beloved Kortowo ­– such emotions dominated among alumni that came to Olsztyn for the 2nd edition of UWM Alumni Day.

Over one hundred thousand people have already graduated from the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, and if we add alumni of the Academy of Agriculture and Technology/Higher School of Agriculture and the Higher School of Pedagogy, their number will rise to about three hundred thousand. Many of them still want to meet old friends, and it is for them that every year, at the second weekend of September, the Association of UWM Alumni holds the Alumni Day. In this year’s edition, on 13 September, graduates of five classes took part in the event: 1969 and 1979 animal scientists, 1999 and 2004 agriculturists, and 1998 graduates from the Faculty of Food Sciences. Apart from them, representatives of other faculties came up to celebrate as well. There were so many guests that the lecture hall where the official part was to take place, had to be changed for a larger one. The day started with a meeting at a memorial boulder placed in memory of professors that are already gone. It has become a tradition. Graduates take part in the event not only to rejoice, but also to commemorate their late teachers, who certainly gave them a hard time as well.

The board of UWM Alumni Association decided to celebrate three more of this year’s anniversaries: the 15th of UWM, the 20th of “5 plus x” students magazine, and the 25th anniversary of the association itself.  On this occasion, nearby the Promenade of Alumni, they planted a 15-year-old oak that was given to the University by Jan Dziadkiewicz from Sętal, an agriculture graduate that owns a horticultural farm. It was also in this place where a plaque commemorating the three jubilees was unveiled by Lech Kotowicz, one of the oldest alumni, the Vice-Rector of UWM – Jerzy Przyborowski, PhD, the President of the association – Prof. Andrzej Faruga, a former Vice-Rector – Prof. Tadeusz Rawa, Bolesław Pilarek – the President of Oczapowskiego Foundation, and by Maria Będkowska – the Secretary of “Kresowiacy” Alumni Club.

After this ceremony, all participants moved to a lecture hall at the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology in order to meet with the University’s authorities, represented by the Vice-Rector, Prof. of UWM, Jerzy Przyborowski, PhD.
The Vice-Rector gave alumni a warm welcome, and then, briefly told them what the University is like now, and how it is equipped. He particularly stressed the role that UWM plays as a flywheel of the development in the region. The Vice-Rector also encouraged everyone to recommend UWM to their families and friends, not only because Kortowo is the most beautiful academic campus in Poland, but also for the reason that 70% of UWM alumni find jobs within the first year after graduating.
In the following part of the ceremony, numerous activists of UWM Alumni Association were given awards and distinctions by the authorities of the University and the Association itself.

The official part of the Alumni Day ended with a performance of the Reverend Zbigniew Stępniak, PhD, who sang the most beautiful arias to the accompaniment Ewa Wankowicz on the piano. After the Reverend, the Song and Dance Ensemble “Kortowo” gave a vigorous performance.

When the ceremony finished, alumni stood outside the building for a very long time, divided into bigger or smaller groups, talking and taking photos with their former professors.

Ryszard Czechowski, an alumnus of Animal Science of the year 1983, is the President of Alumni Club “Pomorze”. He also runs a 300-hectare agricultural farm located near Gdańsk. Despite being so busy, he finds the time to visit Kortowo four to five times a year.

–Each time I visit my wife’s family in Biała Piska, I choose the route via Kortowo, so I can meet with my friends from Olsztyn there. We get together in “Sun” Club located in the dormitory number 9. This club used to be known as “Stajnia” (Eng. “Stable”), and we have lots of memories connected with this place. I wish it still had its old name, as it sounded nice and familiar.

Agnieszka Krajewska, an alumnus of the Faculty of Environmental Management and Agriculture of the year 1999 – the last year of the Academy of A&T – stresses that she has come for the reunion from a faraway Będzin in Silesia.

– This is our second meeting. What drives us here? The atmosphere, university friends, the harbor, the lake, memories of our teachers. With a particular pleasure, I recall Prof. Benedycki and Aleksander Socha, our year’s mentor. He always had the time to hear us out and to provide us with help –Agnieszka Krajewska says.

Michał Zochniak came for the reunion from Laski, near Bełchatów. In 1968, he completed Animal Science. At first, he took up horticulture, but now owns as many as 200 hives.

– It is the second time that I have come to Kortowo since graduating. When I visited this place for the first time, I had tears in my eyes – he admits.

– The University of Warmia and Mazury was my random choice and I’m absolutely satisfied with the studies. It was the greatest time of my life. My son also graduated from UWM, and he took over the business. My grandson mentions that he would like to study here as well – says Michał Zochniak.

–Indeed, my husband talks with our son a lot about Kortowo when they get together – adds his wife, Jadwiga.

The longest way to the reunion was covered by two students that now live in Great Britain – Małgorzata Mazerska from Red Hill, and Iwona Kot from Cambridge. Both of them graduated from the Faculty of Environmental Management and Agriculture. The first one works as a medical assistant, while the latter one is a translator at Cambridge University.

What does Kortowo look like from the perspective of such a prestigious university?

–It is more pleasant and joyful here. People are more friendly and easy-going. For me, Kortowo is the best – Iwona Kot concludes.


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